Hindu seers demand security for Orissa temples, priests

October 20th, 2008 - 3:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Jagatsinghpur (Orissa), Oct 20 (IANS) A group of Hindu seers has demanded increased security at temples and for priests in Orissa as they fear more attacks against the community, especially after the killing of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader that led to widespread communal violence in the state. A Christian group, meanwhile, pointed out that the communal violence had been aimed against Christians and not against Hindus.”Swami Laxamananda Saraswati (of the VHP) and four of his aides were killed by unidentified gunmen on Aug 23. All the people involved in the murder have not yet been arrested. They may carry out attacks on other Hindu religious places and priests,” Swami Arupananda, president of the Nikhil Utkal Math-Mandiradhish Sevasangha, said here, around 120 km from state capital Bhubaneswar.

“But no one has yet shown sympathy to Hindus especially tribal, their temples and their places of worships. No security is provided to the over 40,000 temples across the state and its priests and saints. The state government should take steps to protect them,” he said Sunday, adding that Hindu seers felt threatened after the killing of Saraswati.

Kandhamal district, some 200 km from here, has been witnessing communal violence after the killing of Saraswati and four others by unidentified gunmen at his Jalespata Ashram.

Maoist rebels have claimed responsibility for the murder, but some Hindu groups held Christians responsible for it, despite repeated denials by Christian organisations. At least 36 people have been killed in the violence and thousands of Christians have been rendered homeless.

More than 20,000 people, most of them Christians, have taken shelter in private and government relief camps after their houses were torched by rampaging Hindu mobs. Thousands of Hindu tribals have, meanwhile, taken shelter in forests fearing arrest.

There has been no report of any Hindu place of worship or any priest being attacked during the violence.

Sajan K George, president of the Global council of Indian Christians (GCIC), pointed out that most of the victims in Kandhamal are Christians. “There seems to be a larger conspiracy behind the attack on Christians and that needs to be investigated,” he said.

“All Christian organisations have condemned the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati but we are totally dismayed at the ongoing attacks on Christians, their houses and institutions that continue unabated in Orissa and other parts of the country,” George told IANS.

The police in Kandhamal said that on Saturday night, a Hindu man was critically injured after some miscreants fired at him in a remote village under Katingia police station. The houses of a Hindu and a Christian were torched in G. Udayagiri area the same night, police said.

Officials said curfew has been lifted since Friday night in many part of the district as normalcy is gradually returning to the region.

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